Skip main navigation

Hurry, only 2 days left to get one year of Unlimited learning for £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more



As the previous steps indicate, the 21st century global politics is very complex. We do have more diverse actors (not only states, but also non-state actors) involved in global politics; furthermore, the number of issues that complicate global politics keep increasing.

In the case of international security, for example, not only balance of military power, but also economic and social crises, environmental problems, human rights issues, religious conflicts have become key issues of concerns. This is mainly due to the end of the Cold War and globalization marked by interdependence.

But does this mean that the 21st century international relations is completely a new world? Of course, NOT! While new types of international interactions are likely to occur thanks to the growing roles of information, technologies, and non-state actors operating across national borders, it is still a state that sets the basic rules of those operations. Also, anarchy still remains a fundamental condition of today’s global politics. The point is, there are both continuities and changes in the 21st century global politics. Today’s world has become more complex than ever before. In this light, the study of global politics ought to be broadened as well.

When we study such complex global politics, the-levels-of-analysis framework could be a useful method for the study of global politics in the sense that it can help us to recognize the complexity underlying global politics. But it has limitations.

Also, different theories of international relations do have different views of international relations with different or competing assumptions about how the world works and how we should comprehend that world. In effect, there is no agreement whatsoever as to how best to understand or explain what is going on and what is likely to happen in our world.

That’s why, it will be better off with a diverse array of competing ideas, methods and theories rather than a single orthodoxy, precisely because there is intrinsic complexity involved in global politics.

Furthermore, in the global politics of the 21st century where actors, issues, and thereby anomalies keep increasing, faster than our answers, we must welcome various interpretations and different analytical approaches. This is the first step for the study of global politics in order to have a constructive dialogue and thus progress.

“Understanding today’s world requires a willingness to confront complexity” (Kegley and Wittkopf, 2014: 24).


  • Kegley, Charles W. and Eugene R. Wittkopf. (2004) World Politics: Trends and Transformation 10th edition. Thomson Wardsworth.
This article is from the free online

Korea in a Global Context

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now